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Koreans and Latinos Break Bread on the Soccer Field

New America Media, text by Jacob Simas, VideoVideo: Jacob Simas and Josue Rojas, Posted: Nov 26, 2009

Last Sunday, Thanksgiving arrived early for all those gathered on a beautiful afternoon at San Antonio Park in Oakland, Calif.

More than a dozen people representing the Korean community and the non-profit Oakland Mission Board (OMB) gathered with roughly 40 of their friends from the day-labor community and members of the First Presbyterian Hispanic Church, for a friendly game of soccer followed by a plentiful turkey dinner.

The event was organized entirely by volunteers from the two groups, which reached out to one another nearly two years ago despite language barriers, and bolstered by their common faith and a desire to provide services and support to the city's most vulnerable communities.

While Oakland Mission Board representative Young J. Bae says that Oaklands Korean community is relatively small, it has nonetheless benefited tremendously from the work provided by day laborers, who he says are often hired to work in Korean businesses.

A restaurant and construction company owner himself, Bae views the collaboration with Pastor Pablo Moratayas congregation as an opportunity to reach out, give back to the workers and bridge the cultural gap between the two communities.

In addition to the weekly soccer matches at San Antonio Park on Sunday afternoons, OMB volunteers meet from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m. every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday at International Boulevard and High Street in Oakland, where they provide coffee and pastries to workers, as well as the homeless.

Through the continued support of volunteers and future funding efforts, OMB hopes to soon expand their day labor services to include job skills training and English language classes.

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